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Layoffs at Harmonix, as studio leaders shuffle roles

Harmonix, the Boston-area studio that created the Guitar Hero and Rock Band franchises, is laying off 37 staff as part of a company-wide restructuring plan.
Fresh off of an inspiring Kickstarter rally, Boston-area Harmonix Music Systems has confirmed a studio restructuring that will result in layoffs. The company, which specializes in music-centric games such as Rock Band and Dance Central, told Gamasutra it let go of 37 full-time staff today, leaving 109 still working at the studio. "Harmonix is in the process of restructuring our organization to bring it into alignment with our current and future product development plans," a spokesperson said. "Unfortunately, this means making the difficult decision to reduce the number of full-time staff. We sincerely appreciate the work of each and every one of these employees. Harmonix is working to ensure that those affected are well taken care of as we make this change." Along with the layoffs, the studio said co-founder Alex Rigopulos would be stepping away from his position as CEO to take on the role of creative director. Harmonix VP of operations and publishing Steve Janiak will be taking on the CEO position going forward. Development will continue on games including Disney: Fantasia Music Evolved and the remake of Amplitude, the latter of which was recently Kickstarted in dramatic fashion, reaching its goal with just hours to spare. Support for the mobile game Record Run will also continue. In-production titles across platforms including console, mobile and PC will not be affected, according to a statement. Additionally, the studio said layoffs are not a result of Microsoft’s decision to unbundle the motion-sensing Kinect from Xbox One. Harmonix has games that rely on the peripheral, namely the upcoming Fantasia. The company said this week it is pondering the future of Chroma, an early-in-development music-based shooter made in partnership with Hidden Path Entertainment. Harmonix was hit with a small number of layoffs in December last year.

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